It's game day again, so we'll gather up some notes while we wait for the first pitch.
Bowa likes what he sees in Castro
If anyone knows what it takes to play SS, it's Larry Bowa. He also knows what it's like to have a young phenom in his clubhouse (Shawon Dunston), so he's a pretty good guy to ask about Starlin Castro. While Bowa thinks he needs work, he's a fan,
"I think sometimes, maybe because of his laid-back personality, maybe Dale thought: 'You know what, I am going to boot him in the butt,' " Bowa said. "I don't know the kid, so I don't know what buttons to push on him. I do know that just watching his skill set, when he is doing things right, he is fun to watch.
"He is a great athlete. Just watching him, it looks like mentally he's not into every pitch. He has got a good arm, he has got good range. Sometimes his feet don't move the way they should. He's a young kid; he has a chance to be special. But he has to get more consistent. It takes a lot of hard work to concentrate on every pitch."
Bowa brings up a good point about pushing the right buttons and the article makes it clear that Castro wasn't a fan of ex-manager Dale Sveum's style -- though Castro himself won't comment on it. He prefers to talk about Rick Renteria. Anyway, having spent most of my adult life as either a teacher or a corporate trainer, I agree with Bowa. You have to know what buttons to push and not everyone responds to the same style. Sveum never seemed to connect with the young SS -- but he never seemed to adapt when it wasn't working. That inability to communicate with all of his players was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Sveum's tenure.
Was Edwin Jackson a mistake?
That's the question Patrick Mooney presented in his piece today. It's too early to say, but Epstein had hinted at that -- but more in the sense that it may not have been the right timing and not about the player himself. As I've mentioned, however, he fit the profile of what the Cubs will target in free agency -- under 30, no comp pick attacthment, and a track record. I also said that that kind of player doesn't come along often and sometimes you have to strike when the opportunity presents himself. This one just didn't work -- at least for one year.
We've had a couple of articles recently here that focused on the ability of Edwin Jackson to come back and at least pitch like the Edwin Jackson of old. Ther is some optimism on that front from the Cubs as well, though it doesn't appear they still believe he can be a core piece.
“We’ll be the first ones to tell you: We’re not perfect,” Epstein said. “Given the situation, I think we could have been more patient. We certainly could have been more in line with the plan. That said, when there’s no pitching, you have to find pitching. Free agency can be a toss of the coin.
“We were really close to landing the two youngest, potentially very productive starting pitchers in free agency. One happened to have a year where he was third in the league in (ERA) and one happened to go out and have the worst year of his career. But we believe there’s a lot better ahead for Edwin Jackson.”
Personally, I think we'll see Jackson be the guy we've seen in recent years. That's not going to be a star or a top of the rotation pitcher. But if he can pitch 200 innings and put up an ERA in the high 3's or low 4's, I'll take it.
Vin Mazzaro clears waivers
It was a bit surprising because he pitched well for the Pirates last year. He has been outrighted to their AAA club but he has 3 days to decide whether he wants to go there. It's tough to say how interested the Cubs are -- after all, they did not attempt to claim him on waivers, but perhaps the Cubs can try and talk him into signing a minor league deal on a team where he may get a better opportunity.
Mazzaro is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.81 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 57 games (73.2 IP). He doesn't miss a lot of bats 5.8 Ks/9 IP but showed solid control (2.57 BB/9 IP). He's also entering his age 27 season.
On the other hand, the Cubs may just prefer to focus on bringing up their young power arms but Mazzaro may be a nice veteran pickup even if it's for AAA depth.
Cubs fans haven't been big fans of platooning young players like Mike Olt and Junior Lake and I've stated here more than once (most recently on Monday) that it doesn't bother me. I just think the Cubs are trying to put those players in a situation where they can have success and that playing everyday isn't necessarily the answer for every rookie. Carrie Muskat's article stated the same thoughts the other day and Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation posted similar sentiments today.
With that in mind here is your Olt-less, Lake-less lineup...
1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
2. Ryan Kalish, LF
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Nate Schierholtz, RF
5. Luis Valbuena, 3B
6. Starlin Castro, SS
7. Ryan Sweeney, CF
8. Welington Castillo, C
9. Edwin Jackson, P
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